Over this past summer, the QCBS Excellence Award provided financial support for me to attend two conferences. The first conference was the 50th Meeting of the Canadian Botanical Association (CBA/ABC) hosted by the Montreal Botanical Garden from June 15th-18th. The conference began with a wonderful day of field trips, where I participated in a tour of the Montreal Botanical Gardens, guided by their own professional botanist. The tour highlighted some very interesting small gardens within the site such as the Sensory Garden, a special garden full of interesting plants to smell and feel. The conference presentations began with a special symposium that outlined the history of Canadian botany, including Canadian bryology and plant community ecology. Other presentations covered a variety of botanical topics such as polyploidy and species complexes in the Amelancher to the reclamation of Albertan well sites in the fescue prairie. I found the attendees very friendly and supportive, and I especially appreciated the receptive audience for my talk on “Abiotic factors determining co‑occurrence patterns in northern Canadian Carex”.
The second conference that I attended was ‘Botany 2014’ in Boise, Idaho from July 26th-30th. I found Boise to be a surprisingly desirable location for this annual event. The scenery surrounding Boise was spectacular, the people were friendly, and the downtown area was a wonderful location to host such an event. I started the conference with a field trip to Leslie Gaulch, Oregon. There, our guide, Dr. Barbara Ertter introduced us to the stunning geological scenery and the fascinating endemic flora, highlighting several species with very narrow distributions because of the unique substrates of the area.
The conference program was full of so many intriguing presentation titles. Of the sessions that I was fortunate to attend, I found the symposium on phylogenetic comparative methods and approaches in plant science, as well as the Cooley Awards presentations, of particular interest. I also received some valuable feedback on my presentation titled “A community phylogenetics approach to determine if specialists are better competitors than generalists”. The overall quality of research presented at the conference was impressive, providing me with more ideas of research directions to pursue after completing my doctoral studies.
I am grateful to the QCBS for helping fund my attendance at these two recent botanical meetings.